Program #1 The right to pursue happiness

We are currently witnessing many people on earth moving in search of better living conditions and travelling vast distances in escaping violence or economic crises. Many are employed in agriculture, however all too often they work under harsh conditions. At Terra Madre Giovani – We Feed the Planet the issue of migration and its consequences will be discussed beginning with the concept that everyone is responsible for taking care of those striving towards a better life.

In this historic period it seems that forced migrations are becoming dramatically more intense. Wars and political instability, together with unfair commercial and production policies, are pushing huge masses of people to leave their homelands, especially in rural areas, to become urbanized or move to safer and richer areas. The food system, with its contradictions, is too often an accomplice of these migration factors and is culpable in generating inequality and exploitation. Land grabbing and monocultures are undermining the basis of small-scale and subsistence farming, which ordinarily ensure adequate incomes, while the same hyper-productive agro-industrial model employs many migrants in underpaid, over-exploited and insecure jobs, taking advantage of their vulnerable political and economical position.

The issue of migration will be central to Terra Madre Giovani – We Feed the Planet, with a conference focusing on this topic. Maria Letizia Gardoni, president of the Coldiretti youth network, the biggest Italian farmers’ union, Nicola Gratteri, public prosecutor for Reggio Calabria, who for a long time has committed himself to fighting the mafia in rural areas, and Abderrahmane Amajou, Slow Food migration expert, will hold an interactive discussion in which participants will be able to thrive in an open atmosphere. It will provide an opportunity to focus on the strategies and actions we, as citizens, can put in practice, not only to support small-scale farming (and consequently try to slow the urbanization process), but also to improve the welfare of migrants employed in Europe, North America and Australia.

Too often the fields that host our food become theaters of exploitation and subjugation. Exploited workers, back-breaking working schedules and inhuman conditions require a determined and equally inflexible reaction from all those who care about human dignity.

Moreover, even if the majority of migrations follow the same geographical patterns (within continents or regions), today we’re witnessing an increasing closure of borders, even in areas considered open and welcoming like Europe and the US. What’s happening? Are we all becoming bad and insensitive people? Are we bound to keep closing ourselves off trying to defend an idea of wealth realized to the detriment of the weakest? Or instead can we still dream of a world of cooperation and fair opportunities for everyone?

The Terra Madre Giovani – We Feed the Planet delegates have a clear and direct answer: Well-being is real only if shared and there is no exclusive happiness. That’s why our event will have brotherhood as a central theme. 2500 youngsters from 120 countries will gather in Milan to boldly state that the world we want is one able to welcome and host those fleeing difficulties and violence; a world that still knows how to respond to violence humanely and that still can recognise beauty and harmony in diversity.

If we consider the Earth as our mother, then we are all brothers and sisters and as brothers and sisters we need to realize that we live on a unique planet in which the only purpose of borders is to help color our maps.

Conference: Migrants and the Food System
Sunday // 12.45-14.15 // Red Room